Readers’ wildlife photos (and video)

We have two videos today; be sure to watch them on the site in high-definition and on a full screen.

After too long an absence, Tara Tanaka (flickr site here, Vimeo site here) has graced us with a short video of  two Pileated Woodpeckers (Dryocopus pileatus) growing up. Her notes are indented below

I went out every morning for two weeks and shot video of these two little boys, from before any of the red in their malar stripes was visible. The day before I shot this video I got to watch the larger of the two say his first “big-boy” Pileated words, and this was my favorite moment of the two weeks — watching the smaller one call his first real call, after hearing and then intently studying his larger brother’s call. I managed to record each of them leaving the cavity the next morning, and the smaller one left about 45 minutes before the larger one! I later realized that they had to be able to communicate with the parents before they fledged, and they timed it perfectly.

The parents had nested in another dead tree the year before, and right around the time that the eggs were due to hatch, the tree broke off half-way up, ironically right at the spot where he had built his cavity the year before, when he didn’t have a mate. This year they built their cavity about 50’ high in a slash pine that my husband had girdled (cut the bark off all the way around) at least 3-4 years ago, just so that it would die and could be used by woodpeckers. When I would review the video that I’d shot on windy mornings I could see the tree moving, and held my breath with every gust for weeks, but this year their tree stood strong while they used the cavity. I saw them for a couple of days after they fledged, but the parents have taken them somewhere else, hopefully just for now. I hope they come back and make their nests in our yard in years to come. A hen Wood Duck would come every morning and look in the cavity to see if it was empty yet, and I think she has been laying eggs in it since they left. Those babies are going to have quite a jump when they hatch!

Reader Rick sent a video of a mammal:

Encounter with a moose cow (Alces alces) at Little Spokane River just north of Spokane, Washington. We were doing some birding in this lovely park. The short trail follows the river through tall ponderosa pine. As the moose emerged from the brush and turned toward me, I was slightly apprehensive and thought it might be coming toward me. But she just turned to continue munching the young leaves.

And Jacques Hausser in Switzerland sent these photos on April 22:

Yesterday I went down to the lake to check my new “auto-gift” (a GX8 Panasonic camera and a 100-400 Leica DG Vario-Elmar tele lens – I was very generous to myself). A crested grebe was very actively fishing in Nyon’s harbor, and I toke some pictures.

1) Here is the great crested grebe, Podiceps cristatus. Sex unknown (their head decorations are unisex), so I decided it was a female. Unfortunately I missed the moment she dived…

2) Usually they eat their prey before popping out of the water, but twice I have seen her with something in the bill. At first view I was thinking she collected some underwater plant for her nest, but. . .

3) enlarging the picture, I discovered it was a stickleback. Its spines are clearly visible and make it a dangerous prey. The bird had to think twice before gulping it.

4) Sticklebacks are obviously difficult to swallow!

5) Victory at least!


  1. Randy schenck
    Posted May 30, 2017 at 7:41 am | Permalink

    Great video by Tara, the sound and pictures are really something. The other photos are also excellent – I think that fish has to go head first?

  2. Mark R.
    Posted May 30, 2017 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

    I’ve encountered moose in the wild as well. They’ve always minded their own business, but with such large animals, it’s best to be cautious.

    We have lots of pileated woodpeckers where I live, but I’ve only seen the attempted nest in some dead birch trees. It would be a thrill to see some chicks poking their heads out like in the video. At this time of year I hear their calls pretty much anytime I’m outside.

    Grebes are the best!

  3. darrelle
    Posted May 30, 2017 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    Very good offerings today. Tara never disappoints.

    I’ve had close encounters with various species of deer, even an elk, but never a moose. I’d really like to experience a large moose relatively close.

    In the 4th Great Crested Grebe photo that poor grebe looks just like I do when trying to swallow my morning vitamins. Never been good at that.

  4. Posted May 30, 2017 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    Always very good! I have been hearing the calls and hammering of a lot of woodpeckers in the woods, as they feast on the grubs in the many dead elms that are in our forests now. This is because of the emerald ash boror, unfortunately.

  5. Posted May 30, 2017 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

    Loved the moose video and Grebe photos!

    Thanks for the nice comments – I’m getting ready to edit a LOT of video, including some of one of the largest alligators I’ve ever seen, and he’s in our swamp!

    • rickflick
      Posted May 30, 2017 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

      “he’s in our swamp!”
      My in-laws lost a dog to an alligator. Be very careful.

      • Posted May 30, 2017 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

        Thanks Rick! I’m careful, but my husband is out there all the time trying to control the floating islands we have. Yesterday I got video of the “smaller,” eight-foot mother gator throwing a wake going after an Anhinga, that just barely got away. I think the visual as the gator flew out of the air, onto the a little island made it a bit more real for him. Hopefully.

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